An anonymous, spoiler-free review of Fantastic Mr. Fox from Sunday’s screening:
It’s extremely difficult to write a review of Fantastic Mr. Fox without giving away too many details because it’s such a marvelous film and I could discuss it for hours…but I’ll avoid spoiling it! I actually considered not going because I didn’t want to spoil it for myself, but who am I kidding? I couldn’t wait! The film isn’t even finished yet. The parts that haven’t yet been animated were shown as drawings and [animation].
First, I really had no idea what to expect regarding how Anderson would transform this concrete children’s book with a set plot into his own work and vision. Dahl’s original plot was used more as an outline and Anderson took many liberties with altering the script to project his tone and intentions. The animals were much more humanized than the way in which they are presented in the book
(more after the break).
Anderson proves he is a true auteur with an extremely effective translation of his distinct style into animation. I actually thought this would be quite different from his other films, but absolutely every detail is saturated with Andersonian charm. It’s quite impressive to see how he challenged himself as a filmmaker and successfully carried out this fully-animated film.
The visuals of the film are stunning. The stop-motion characters are so wonderfully whimsical and Anderson’s choice to animate this film in this traditional, older manner acts as an asset to his characteristic style. He was obviously capable of depicting ideas and achieving visuals with very different techniques compared to his other films, and this allows the viewer to get a better picture of just how playful he can be when exposing his vision within this alternative film medium.
My favorite character was Ash, the Fox family’s runty, “different” son, voiced by Jason Schwartzman. I felt that the strongest parts of the film focused on his growth as a character. Another favorite was Kylie, Mr. Fox’s quite lovable sidekick, who I believe is a mole, though I could be wrong about his species. Wallace Wolodarsky voiced this character and was outstandingly perfect for the part.
Bill Murray’s role is hilarious. He’s a fantastic voice actor, and it’s evident here in his character as the badger. In contrast to the listing on the IMDB but in confirmation of their message boards, Meryl Streep voiced Mrs. Fox, not Cate Blanchett. She and George Clooney weren’t particularly astounding by any means, in my opinion. Some might be delighted to learn that Owen Wilson voiced a small role as Ash’s and cousin Kristofferson’s coach… The screening didn’t show credits, but I’m 98% sure it was Owen Wilson in this role, and if not, it was one of his siblings [Editor’s note: according to our information, you are right]. Kristofferson was actually voiced by Eric Anderson, dedicated and talented brother of Wes.
Among the most fantastic of Anderson’s scenes in all his movies is a really touching scene of Ash and Kristofferson watching a toy train. The visuals and emotion conveyed are absolutley magnificent. One of Anderson’s most hilarious scenes involves the interaction of Mr. Fox and a silent wolf toward the end of the film. There are lots of touching scenes of adolescence revolving around Ash, and plenty of Anderson’s signature dark humor throughout the plot. My favoite quote goes something like this, “You better put on your bandit hat now. Personally, I don’t have one, but I modified this tube sock.”
Feel confident in your anticipation of Fantastic Mr. Fox! It exceeded my expectations enormously, and I had already projected it would be, well, fantastic, as the title implies. I personally can’t wait to see the finished film with the completed animation. It’s incomparable to other modern animated films…in a good way! I hope that Anderson gets the credit he deserves for this very challenging endeavor that has resulted in this impressively powerful, inspiring, and successful animated masterpiece.
Anonymous is a unnamed author from a secret place. He/she enjoys reading, sketching, and water skiing. Direct cease and desist requests to edwardappleby(at)yankeeracers(dot)org.